Supporting a friend - what to, what not to?

Hey everyone,

I am new here and I'd love to thank you very much for sharing your experience here, first of all.

I do not suffer from depression or anxiety at least as far as I think but I am here because I am really in need of advice - one person who is very dear to me does have a depression. I've known him for about 3 years but I have just found out that he actually suffers from depression. I think we both were quite good at sabotaging our friendship and relationship. He's done that as he says because he was rejected many times before by people. Last time the pause in our communication was really long. I had a feeling that as far as he keeps blocking me out of his life from time to time I really should just walk away and move on. This time that we kinda resumed our communication I promised first of all to me that I will not go away but in about 2 weeks after we reunited he did that again - just stopped talking to me. I tried my best to show him that I want to be supportive but that I also need his help in that, that I want to be there for him not actually asking for anything in return but just because he matters a lot to me. It certainly hurts me to know he has to go through this.

I've read a lot of comments on how one can help their family member or friend in such a situation. Many men many minds, obviously. One of my buddies who has a depression said once that I should just leave this friend of mine alone for the time when he feels bad like that. Other people on the internet say that socializing is what helps them a lot to cope with depression and to feel at least a little better... The thing is that I tried my best to be supportive, to show him that I care so I was probably too enthusiastic - I tried to talk to him, tried to explain that I am not going anywhere, that any moment he needs that I am there for him... He got angry, called my words absurd and accused me of stalking him.

Where is that fine line one should not cross? Showin that you care but not being imposing or a stalker if he chooses that way of describing that? I understand that in many cases one may really be unable to socialize but I keep emailing him from time to time to show that I am really not giving up on our friendship, that even with all these ups and downs I miss it a lot... No reaction so far. Had I been given a chance to undo the things I did wrong I would have undone them, I would have unsaid the words I had said before I knew about his problem. If, if, if... How trying to be supportive not to do more harm? How not to make one even more depressed?

I am trying to understand all that, trying to learn as much as I can... because he matters and because I do not want to lose him. Unfortunately now I am far far away so I cannot come and take him out for a walk so emails and mobile phone are the only 2 ways I can reach for him...

I'm sorry if I talk nonsense or cannot see the obvious things but I am pretty much confused. So any opinion is really appreciated a lot.

15 Replies

  • I'm not sure whether this will apply but through my own experiences if someone tried to get me to talk about my feelings and what I was going through I pulled away from them as I just couldn't physically face talking about them. Honestly I sabotaged any relationships that had a chance and while I somehow knew that if they didn't go it meant they were sincere mine always went. However just having someone telling me about there day or just discussing a good book helped it took my mind off things even for that short time.

    Don't give up and stay strong its not easy for either of you.

  • Thank you for your support. I know that it can be different every time, that everyone feels their own pain.

    I am trying to be supportive. Anyway, whatever this particular case may be, at least I will know that I tried my best.

  • Hi,

    It sounds as though you feel you really NEED the relationship with the person and that it's difficult for you to accept that he doesn't want a relationship with you as much as you want one with him? As if you want to help him to want what you want, a relationship with you, because you feel you can help him, but I wonder whether you also need his help. I'm wondering how you feel when he doesn't help you to help him? I know that in your situation I would feel first anger and then feel depressed and so I'm wondering why you are NOT depressed? Perhaps it is hard for you to accept things as they are, because then you would feel depressed. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it does sound as if you are confusing your needs and wishes with his.

    Perhaps it would be helpful for you to talk things through with someone, maybe a counsellor who specialises in relationships? You can find someone through the organisation Relate or your GP can refer you to a counsellor.


  • Hi,

    thank you for being honest. That does not sound harsh, I am here because people here know more about how they may feel and I do need maybe to listen to what you all say about your own experience.

    I have considered such a possibility. This is the thing - I am actually trying to figure out analyzing the patterns of his previous behaviour. Every time this happened before - I mean his going away, his pushing me away... - he came back apologizing and offering to keep communicating. I have been quite honest with him - the last time he came and apologized I suggested that we probably should really stop communicating then if he feels he does not want that and if we all the time have the same problem. I am not in a position to impose my wishes on him and if he really does not need me to be there for him then no matter what I want I cannot make him want that. He offered to resume communicating and asked me if I wanted that.

    For now I frankly speaking have no idea what he wants. 5 weeks ago it was an apology and "Yes, I want to keep communicating with you, of course". Now it is silence. I'll handle that whatever his choice will be. It is not about my attempts to make him want what I want. I've been through the anger stage when I could not understand why he keeps goind away and then coming back and apologizing because that was kinda draggin me back and looked like some weird loop we both stuck in. He always gave the same reason: "Please, don't think you are the only one I treat this way. I am like that with everyone because I have been rejected by people so many times". This is why now it is important for me to understand where he wants it all to go because if he wants me to leave him alone I am not the one to keep annoying him with my presence. I certainly understand that he does not find it impossible to live without me. I certainly would be very upset with his "no" but on the other hand that would be a kind of a relief because at least somehow that will be sorted out and I would know whether I should just move on or wait for him to get better and keep supporting him.

    I enjoy his company. I've always told him about that. I value him and have always said that to him. The same was many times said about me. When people matter to me I show how much I appreciate them, I don't take their being with me for granted. Last time I heard from him was about 2 weeks ago when I asked if I had said anything wrong and if I had, well, then I wanted to try to make it right. He answered he was despondent, he was going off his medications and felt apathetic while I kept buggin him with all my emails. I asked him to honestly say if he does not want me to contact him anymore. Not ignoring. No answer so far. If I were sure that he now feels ok and really ignores me because he just really does not want to deal with me I would move on. That would be painful, no doubt. But I do not know anything for sure, that's the way it is. I understand that this tossing ideas in the air does not comfort anyone. I am not trying to solve his problems. All I want is him to be fine. With me or without me. I do not at all leave in denial that he might just not need that. But this is the case when I prefer to give it a try and show my support to see what might follow. Thus, I do not lose anything. This is life, this happens that some people stay and others go for different reasons. The death of some relationships we mourne, and that is normal...

  • *live in denial

  • Hi

    Perhaps you just need to let him go as he does seem confused about what he wants. Perhaps you need to consider your own best interests and move on with the rest of your life as it feels quite stgnant to go on hoping things will change with him where they clearly won't.

    There's so much more in the world out there, if he doesn't want help then maybe you need to say goodbye and move on.

    Good luck,


  • Try

    Spectrum Therapy Effective treatment for all forms of Depression.

    All the best Martin

  • I disagree with secondhandrose, for me I often go through periods when I can't face people but I'm always pleased to know that I do have friends around when I'm ready yo face up to them. Don't bombard this person with texts and emails, maybe just every so often just let him know that you're going to the pub at a certain if he wants to join you or just something to say I'm here when you need me. Don't ask lots of questions, just keep it simple. He'll talk when he's ready. It won't be about you either, he is probably doing the same to everyone. He is probably struggling to understand his feelings too. So make sure you are happy too!

    It can be hard for people on the other side of depression to know how to handle it. I've been on both sides, a family member had depression and she ignored texts and calls and didn't answer the door. I thought she was being really selfish when she was pushing people's help away. But now I'm on the other side of it all I know that I need my space and when I'm ready to see people I know that someone will be there.

  • Hi, Katie...

    Thank you for your words. I know I should not go crazy but at the same time not knowing what is going on with him and how he is doing makes me worry so much. That's probably because this is the first time that I know that he is in a depression and that is why the same thing happened all this time again and again. I know that opening up to people also is not easy.

    Trying my best anyway.

    Thank you.

  • Hi there, from what you have written i understand your friendship is of great importance to you. One thing springs to my mind about your situation is he may feel deserted by you? Did you move away from where he lives? Did you see each other in person before? The reason i ask is that for some depressives suffering with rejection is sometimes pushed upon ourvfriends and families. The pain of losing someone so close can get too much and by rejecting your friendship he may be trying to save himself more pain. Please don't change who you are to suit someone else it' s a road not worth taking. Stay loyal to yourself and offer to maybe skype? He may miss the personal contact. I have in the past and sometimes still do lock myself away. But my true friends are still there when i need them. You sound like you're suffering from losing your friendship. You go from the highs and lows of friendship and rejection. If you can cope with this rollercoster of a friendship and he means that much to you. Stay put and stay strong. This site is here for all of us. Keep well and good luck.


  • Thanks, Rob...

    He just seems to be not interested... 70 days is a long term. Long enough. I have to finally admit it.

  • Today is actually the day that I gave up. I do not think that it actually matters to him - more than 2 months after he unfriended me everywhere, while I see him adding new people. He still keeps ignoring me though. So, I think I really need to stop lying to myself as he's just not that into any friendship with me or into me. Sue was right, I believe. It certainly hurts a lot... but I did everything and if that does not interest him I can only admit that I wanted that more than he did. And I should stop being silly.

    Well, the good thing is that his online activity might mean that he feels better. Hope so.

    Thank you, guys, for your advice and opinion. I appreciate that a lot and that you supported me too.

  • Hi

    I haven't read your blog fully or all the comments as I'm about to rush out, but just wanted to say that the most important thing you can offer your friend who suffers from depression is to let him know that you care, that you are there and want to be of help, and that if he wants to talk then you will do your best to listen. That's probably the most important thing. Anything else you just have to play it by ear and follow that person's lead.


  • Hi Sue,

    thanks for the comment again. I did my best to tell him this, honestly. I'm afraid I might have sounded like a broken record. I got actually very paranoid about every single word I said - what will he see in these words? will he ever bother to try to see anything?

    The first thing I asked of him when I found out he is in a depression was to give me some time too because I would certainly make mistakes but I want to learn, I want to understand what and why and when. I felt something was going wrong but he kept telling he did not know why he felt so tired so I kept communicating with him in the most supportive way I was capable of to try to find out what really was there. If he got pissed off with me for my attempts to simply understand at least a tiny bit and chose not to talk to me ever I cannot do anything. I apologized a million times. I told him a million times that I am still there any moment he might need that. I just no longer think he cares, that's it.

    I admit I might have done something wrong. And as he said the wrong thing was that I actually tried to talk to him in the wrong time. Ok. I see that for him now it is much easier and more comfortable to spend time with dudes who listen to all that doom metal about how mankind sucks, people are bastards, life is shit... I think he made quite a clear choice even if that was quite overreacted - mutually overreacted. He never could say into my face a good bye - he always just blocks me, ignores me, throws me out of every list (only me no matter how often he said he is like that with everyone). He's a big boy and he makes choices. If my being supportive and caring for him is a synonym of stalking, what's the point? Looks like the more I care the faster he runs away. If he had wanted to talk to me he would have talked.

  • I do not want to sound as if it were about me only. After he came back again with apologies and then as I felt he was somehow growing detached of course I panicked too. So, I maybe talked too much because I was afraid that my words just did not reach for him. So, maybe I am the one to blame

You may also like...